“The Miss America program exists to provide personal and professional opportunities for young women to promote their voices in culture, politics and the community.” This is how the Miss America Organization describes their mission. This year, it seems that America wanted to promote its own voice in response.
Reactions on social media to the crowned Miss America this year surged like never before with hateful, racist themes in response to the Organization’s selection. Nina Davuluri is the first Indian-American to be offered the crown. Her platform was celebrating diversity through cultural competency, and she exhibited her own differences through her Indian dance performance.
The very moment the crown touched Davuluri’s head Americans at large took to social media platforms, specifically Twitter, to criticize the winner through racist and degrading comments. The hashtags that were used to promote the competition were alternately employed to fuel the angry fire. “If you’re #MissAmerica you should have to be American,” one Twitter user proclaimed. What should have been a celebratory occasion took a dark turn as many ignorant Americans partook in a large-scale form of cyber-bullying.
The danger of social media is that it gives many people the courage to voice opinions through a flimsy screen of anonymity. Hatred can spread like wildfire when the issue is taken to a platform like Twitter. While this was a cruel and unfortunate reflection of Americans, the response to the Miss America win also serves as an eye-opening example of how destructive people’s words have the capacity to be, now online especially. Racism and bullying online are huge causes of suicide and other harmful behavior. The Twitter Abuse trend has been applied to all sorts of target groups. Women as a gender have come forth about being subjected to hatred. It seems that social media has reopened issues that have been fought against for decades, including sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. The Twitter outlet is so accessible which is I think why there has been such a resurgence in “public” targeting of a group of people. By bashing the woman chosen to represent our melting pot of a country for her ethnic differences, these social media users made it clear how simple and effective it is to spread unwarranted negativity, gaining more support and strength as the hateful hashtags increase.
Feature image courtesy of Flickr user Andy Jones